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City Residents Plead For Council To Reduce Proposed 5% Tax Increase

Jenna Carlesso

April 28, 2010

Carolyn Murray worries what would happen to her neighborhood if a proposed 5 percent tax increase takes effect in July.

Murray, who lives on East Burnham Street, said many of her neighbors get by on fixed incomes, drawing either a pension or Social Security checks.

"We are not getting any increase in our salaries. You can't continue when you're on a fixed income with everything going up," said Murray, a city resident for more than 20 years. "We're going to be lost."

She was one of dozens who spoke before Mayor Eddie A. Perez and the city council on Tuesday. City residents and workers offered their perspective on Perez's 2010-11 budget, which calls for a 5 percent property tax increase and a $19 million, or 3.5 percent, boost in spending, during a public hearing at Bulkeley High School.

"I'm truly concerned. I know I'm getting ready to move and I've talked to at least 10 people lately who are in the same boat," Carmen Rodriguez, of Barbour Street, told the mayor and council. "Please pay attention, because we don't have a future."

Hyacinth Yennie, who lives in the city's South End and owns a carpet-cleaning company in that area, said the proposed tax increase would cripple some local businesses.

"We do suffer. How can we retain people in the city? I'm really having a very hard time," she said.

"I've never seen it this bad. Residents can't afford more taxes," Yennie said.

Jackie Maldonado, of Madison Street, called the proposed increase "mind-boggling."

"They're putting the burden on residents and small businesses that are already maxed," Maldonado, 39, said. She said she is frustrated that taxes keep climbing and residents aren't seeing any improvements in services.

"How can I possibly keep paying more taxes in a city where the buildings are blighted and the streets are broken?" she asked.

Others praised the mayor and council for the Hartford Arts and Heritage Job Grants Program in this year's budget, which has helped to grow jobs in the arts, and asked that more money be set aside for the cause in the next fiscal year.

Kate Bolduc, chief executive officer of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, said the program has helped her create some 250 jobs within the last year. The arts council advocates for funding for the arts community. "Every little bit helps," she said.

Perez's $554.3 million budget, which he called the toughest he's ever recommended, would require a tax increase of 3.85 mills, or 5 percent, bringing the tax rate to 76.64 mills. That equals $76.64 for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

"We're going to have to make tougher decisions this year and the next," Perez said Tuesday. "This budget makes difficult decisions at a difficult time."

The city council will begin budget deliberations on Thursday. Members have until May 21 to amend the mayor's budget.

The city's deadline to adopt a budget is May 31.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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